Toxic food for cats

ginger cat lying down outside with flowers
Written by: Sam Webster (BVetMed MRCVS) Head Vet at Joii

Many of us cat owners may like to snuggle up with our pets on a lazy evening and maybe share a snack or two – but before you do, it’s important to know that there are some foods that are actually toxic and even poisonous for our feline friends.

In this post, we’ll look at what human foods and other products are poisonous for cats, so you are aware of what to keep them away from – and what to do if they accidentally eat any of these things.


What foods are poisonous for cats?


A wide range of human foods are actually quite poisonous for cats, so it’s important for every cat owner to be aware of these. Below is a list of just some foods and products that can be quite harmful and sometimes toxic for cats:


  • Flowers – there are a number of plants and flowers that can be quite toxic to for your cat such as daffodils, aloe vera, hydrangeas, tulips and, lilies. etc Even licking the pollen from a lily can cause kidney failure, so it is important that you do not keep any toxic plants or flowers in your house and always do your research.
  • Grapes and raisins – whilst the exact reasoning for why grapes and raisins are toxic for cats isn’t known, consuming them can actually lead to kidney failure.
  • Alcohol – anything containing alcohol can cause serious problems for your cat such as vomiting, diarrhoea, breathing difficulties, coma and even death.
  • Chocolate – this contains certain substances that are highly toxic to cats and can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, tremors, seizures and even death in some severe cases.
  • Dairy products – feeding your cat dairy products such as cows milk, cheese and yoghurt can potentially lead to digestive problems as many cats are lactose intolerant and so cannot process dairy appropriately.
  • Nuts – like grapes and raisins, the exact reason why nuts are toxic for cats is unknown, but many nuts are rich in oils and fats that can cause digestive problems for your cats.
  • Raw eggs and meat – raw eggs and meat such as chicken and fish can contain salmonella and/or E. coli bacteria which can cause food poisoning in cats.
  • Salt – when consumed in large amounts, salt and salty foods can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, tremors, seizures and even death in cats.
  • Household chemicals and weedkillers - as you cat walks around the house or garden it could get cleaning products or cleaning products on it’s paws which it then will lick off and ingest. Depending on the product, these can cause a range of signs from severe chemical burns in the mouth and throat to vomiting and diarrhoea, tremors and seizures.
  • Antifreeze - found in screen washes for cars and in some inks and snowglobes, antifreeze (ethylene glycol) causes severe kidney damage, seizuring and death. It tastes sweet so cats are drawn to it and can lick it off the garage floor, drink it from ornamental garden ponds or fountains or from spills.


If you know or suspect that your cat has eaten any of the above items or something else that may not be suitable for them, you should call your vet immediately rather than waiting for your cat to show any poisoning symptoms.



What are the symptoms if a cat has eaten something poisonous?


The symptoms of food poisoning in cats can vary massively depending on what exactly they have consumed, but below are some of the main ones you should look out for:


  • Excessive salivation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Twitching and fitting
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Lethargic or weak
  • Pale gums
  • Shock or collapse
  • Blood in faeces, vomit or saliva
  • Excessive thirst


If you spot any of these symptoms in your cat, you should take them to the vets immediately for examination and treatment.

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